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 Which Pad Material Seals Best in Cold Weather
Author: seabreeze 
Date:   2019-01-15 02:01

Considering all the different types of clarinet pads available today, including but not limited to traditional bladder, cork, gore-tex, leather, quartz, Valentino, etc is there any evidence that one of these materials emerges clearly to give the best seal when when the weather is very cold? Which is the least likely to deform and leak when the weather changes?

Post Edited (2019-01-15 07:56)

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 Re: Which Pad Material Seals Best in Cold Weather
Author: Paul Aviles 
Date:   2019-01-15 04:22

I cannot say that I have ever noticed a weather related issue with pads sealing. Of course I assume you mean an effect similar to reeds responding differently in humid conditions as opposed to dry conditions (given that we play in heated halls in the Winter and air conditioned ones in the Summer).

If you speak about playing under particularly cold circumstances (out door performance at 50 degrees Fahrenheit or less) I would imagine (no direct experience) that leather would be a bad choice since that material would begin to lose its supple qualities. This may also be the case for Quartz resonance pads since I would think that the squishiness of the silicone would suffer at lower temperatures. So as a "thought experiment only," I would guess felt based pads would be your best bet for extremely cold playing conditions. In such extreme cold playing conditions (my circumstances were down to 27 degrees Fahrenheit) I've used both felt based pads and Kraus Omni pads with no problems at all.

In addition to playing your horn at normal room temperature conditions (when you can help it) it is also helpful to store your horn in a room that you wouldn't mind being in for hours at a time in short sleeves (as opposed to the trunk of you car in the baking sun or dead of Winter). You don't want your horn to undergo a lot of expansion and contraction that will mess with key tolerances and even the glue (or shellac) that holds the pads in place.

I'd be interested to hear if others have noticed sealing issues at different times of the year or in different locales.

....................Paul Aviles

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 Re: Which Pad Material Seals Best in Cold Weather
Author: clarnibass 
Date:   2019-01-15 09:01

I can't say any type of pad was better or worse in cold weather. I've played outside at about 5-10C but not enough to have very meaningful statistics (i.e. never had a problem with a pad as a result).

Leather or bladder covered felt pads, even if the cover is treated to be waterproof, can eventually swell to the point of not sealing. Here is an example where I happened to me. Bass clarinet started having some weird intermittent problems (upper clarion slightly hard to play). It was during a tour so I didn't play a lot other than the concerts themselves. Then during one of the concerts it started happening and the clarion became harder and harder the more I played. It was one of the pads that was swelling while I was playing from humidity.

Winter might not be the same everywhere, but here, it is mostly pretty cold and dry, so there's far more condensation, which is likely what caused this. So I'd say pads that can have that happen are probably less reliable in the "winter"... in general.

On the other hand, I've only had this happen with one pad on my bass clarinet and I had it for over ten years at the time. Now, almost five years later, never had this with another pad. I have seen a bunch of swollen pads that needed to be replaced on others' instruments, but can't really know if "winter" accelerated it.

Re synthetic pads such as Valentino or Omni, I have only tried those first time about ten years ago (less with the Valentino models that came out after that). I don't know if that is enough time for meaningful statistics, but I haven't seen one change like that. It's very rare that I need to readjust a synthetic pad I installed and most of the time it's from the key slightly moving. The very few times it seemed to be the pad, it looked like it moved inside the key cup, because the shape wasn't deformed.
I have seen tones of leaking synthetic pads (that others installed) but nothing ever suggested it wasn't a bad installation in the first place that was the issue.

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 Re: Which Pad Material Seals Best in Cold Weather
Author: Fuzzy 
Date:   2019-01-15 22:42


I'm not sure whether this will help you I'm not sure how cold "cold" is. However, I play outside every Christmas Eve (usually somewhere between 6pm and midnight). Temperature can be anywhere from -20 F to +20 F. Usually, my clarinet has a combination of leather pads and skin pads (plus one cork pad on the upper joint g#/c# key).

I have no scientific measure, but here are my observations:
Skin pads have a tendency to freeze to the toneholes and tear.
Cork pads have a tendency to freeze to the toneholes and stick (sometimes pretty solidly)
Leather pads seem to hold up well.
The above observations could very well be a result of where which materials are being used on the instrument.

As for which material seals best...I really couldn't say. In those conditions, my fingers usually play a larger role in leaks than my pads do. Also - the keys/oil on rod screws can begin to get somewhat sluggish, and the spring tension is not quite right as a I suspect some leaking is caused by this too.

As for pad longevity - I've found the cork and leather pads recover pretty much back to normal, whereas I usually have to replace a skin pad or two due to tearing. I haven't used synthetics, so I can't address those.


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 Re: Which Pad Material Seals Best in Cold Weather
Author: EaubeauHorn 
Date:   2019-01-16 23:04

This is about an oboe and not a clarinet but may apply nonetheless. My oboe started simply not playing the lower joint notes. I was all ready to send it off to be adjusted when I realized it was being stored in about 50 degrees and low humidity. So I moved it to a location that was 68 degrees and higher humidity, and in a few days it played like before. So I'm glad I didn't send it off to be adjusted because it wouldn't have made any difference.

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